Rosetta Stone began with one man's quest for a better way to learn a language. Allen Stoltzfus began studying Russian in the 1980s, but became frustrated with his slow progress. Fortunately, he knew there was a better way to learn a language, through immersion, which he had experienced years earlier while studying in Germany. Allen's command of German was a direct result of being a part of the culture and the world of Germany, instead of sitting in a classroom. He immersed himself in the language, and discovered German the way he had acquired his first language…naturally and without translation.
And so, an idea was born. Allen envisioned using computer technology to simulate the way that people learn their native language—with pictures and sounds in context, and with no translation. Allen went to his brother-in-law, John Fairfield, who had a Ph.D. in computer science, to explore the possibilities. John loved the idea, but he and Allen had to wait until technology caught up with their vision.
That time came in 1992 when Fairfield Language Technologies was founded in Harrisonburg, Va. Allen, the company's Chairman and President, recruited his brother, Eugene Stoltzfus, from the world of architecture to be the company's first Executive Vice President. Eugene also lent design expertise to the structural and visual components of the program, which quickly went from a dream to a reality.
In another flash of brilliance, Allen, John and Eugene called their product "Rosetta Stone," named after the artifact that had unlocked the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphics for linguists. The name certainly fits, as Rosetta Stone's products now unlock learning success for millions of users worldwide.
Allen passed away in 2002, but his legacy of achievement and innovation inspires the company to this very day. Eugene filled the role of President and Chairman until the end of 2005. Tom Adams was named CEO in 2003 and with his innovative leadership and passion for language-learning, took Rosetta Stone global, establishing offices in Europe, Japan and Korea. In 2006, the company was sold to investment firms ABS Capital Partners and Norwest Equity Partners, and was renamed after its signature product. Rosetta Stone Inc. (RST) became publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange in April 2009, and has since continued to provide language-learning solutions in over 30 different languages in more than 150 countries.
Steve Swad, previously the company's CFO, took over as CEO in 2012 and is now leading Rosetta Stone's transformation to a cloud-based business model that goes beyond language learning and deeper into education technology. Under Steve's leadership, the company expanded to Brazil, the Middle East, and, in 2013, acquired four companies: the creators of the popular Fit Brains Trainer, Vivity Labs Inc.; one of the world's largest online language-learning communities, Livemocha; international language company Tell Me More; and the premier reading technology company, Lexia Learning. These critical acquisitions further propelled Rosetta Stone as the leader in education technology.
Today, while Rosetta Stone still calls Virginia home, the company now has offices all over the U.S.— including Boulder, CO, San Francisco, CA, Austin, TX, Seattle, WA, and Boston, MA—and the world.
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